Jul 30, 2014

Escaped Inmate Gets Life Sentence in St. Pete Killings

Michael Scott Norris pleaded guilty to shooting two men to death inside a St. Petersburg home last fall after he escaped from a Pinellas County work release center, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Escaped Inmate Gets Life Sentence in St. Pete Killings

The man accused of escaping from a Pinellas County work release center, then breaking into a St. Petersburg home and killing two men working inside, pleaded guilty to murder Monday and was given a life sentence, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Michael Scott Norris, 36, was immediately sentenced to life in prison, the Times reports.

Norris, described as a serial burglar by authorities, had been staying at the Goodwill-run Largo Residential Re-Entry Center on U.S. 19 near Whitney Road and working at a downtown St. Pete restaurant. 

According to the St. Petersburg Police, Norris left the center Sept. 30, stole a gun from an ex-girlfriend in St. Petersburg, then broke into a home in the Historic Kenwood neighborhood, where he shot Bruce Johnson, 51, of St. Petersburg, and Arthur Regula, 36, of Hudson, to death. He set fire to the home to cover up his crime, authorities said.

Investigators said Norris committed the burglary at 2635 4th Ave. N and then shot and killed both victims inside of the residence during the burglary. Norris then stole items from inside of the residence, set the house on fire and left in a Ford F-150 truck that belonged to one of the victims, according to the police report.

The day after the murders, the abandoned the Ford F-150 was found set on fire near the intersection of Columbus and MacDill in Tampa. 

Sign up for the St. Pete Patch email newsletter to get our top headlines delivered straight to your inbox so you won't miss a thing!

Don’t miss updates from Patch!